Learning opportunities are everywhere

Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a serious tech nerd. I enjoy going into electronics stores and just walking around to see what is available or new. I watch videos and read news articles about different technologies that exist and look for ways to apply them in my life.

A lot of this interest has great application in my personal life but limited application in my professional life. Let’s take my desire for gaming as an example. Many years ago I wanted to play on my own Minecraft server. The problem was, I didn’t have a lot of experience in running servers. Thankfully there is no shortage of information on how to run a Minecraft server. I booted up a Windows machine, installed the necessary components, and began playing. This worked, for a time.

Eventually, I started running into problems. The Windows machine needed updates and one of the updates decided to crash the system, permanently. I did some more research and found that truly reliable Minecraft servers were all running on variations of Linux. This was a new technology to me and I had very little experience in working with Linux operating systems. I found that Ubuntu was a great way to get my hands dirty. Installing Ubuntu with the GUI (Graphical User Interface) was a little more difficult than Windows, but I had the internet and lots of articles on how to get things running.

After running Ubuntu and my Minecraft server for a few months I decided that I wanted to do more. I started a forum for the people playing on my Minecraft server. Rather than paying a monthly fee to a hosting company, this was a great opportunity to use more of the computing power to run the forum on my Ubuntu box. Off to the internet I go to find more information on how to setup a forum on my machine.

While Ubuntu is quite reliable and was a fantastic way to get started. I did find that it wasn’t the best OS for running all of my services. Mostly, Ubuntu GUI was geared for end-users and my needs had started shifting to more computing load and server grade applications. This was when I started diving more into pure command line/terminal systems and went with CentOS. Fast forward to today and I’m proficient in virtual machines, web servers, and a plethora of other things that I never would have learned about if it wasn’t for my desire to play Minecraft on my own server.

At the time I started playing with servers, I was a technical trainer. I taught people about custom coding for a banking software application. There was absolutely zero need for me to know about PAM (privileged access management) inside a Linux server environment or how to setup SAML applications using an identity provider. These things were completely separate and my desire to play games had no crossover to how I performed my job.

But, as with all things in life, we can find opportunities for learning absolutely everywhere we look. With each new technology I played with, I found new job opportunities that allowed me to use what I learned from my passion for gaming. Each job opportunity has expanded my professional knowledge and allowed for growth in my personal life as well. I have found a very symbiotic relationship between my goals to learn about new technology and how to apply them in all areas of my life.

I strongly encourage you to play hard. If it wasn’t for my desire to play games I wouldn’t have the job I do today. Learning wasn’t my primary goal, but I had a lot of fun and as a result I ended up gaining a lot of knowledge. Always remember that opportunities for learning are all around you, it’s up to you what you gain from them.